Our Teams - Hurling
Dubai Celts Hurling 2016/2017
By Michael Redmond
The hurling season started with a degree of trepidation, stalwarts such as Eddie Walsh, Collins Connelly, ‘Plucky’ Kennedy and An Cathaoirleach, Darragh Walsh had left for home, and Shane Rackard was likely to be departing for Qatar. Numbers for the small ball game were going to need boosting for us to be competitive.
Thankfully, due to the ‘Silicon Gang’, the ‘Cheoifat Four’, and an influx of hardy looking Emirates Cabin Crew, among others, we were able to gather a new set of recruits making our numbers look stronger than ever.
With Boot Camp completed, we selected our teams and captains and prepared for the 1st round of the Middle East Hurling League, which this year, would be made up of 8 teams.
Dubai Harps and Dubai Glen Rovers, led by the Rob Small and Colm Hunter respectively, were both beaten comfortably by strong Abu Dhabi outfits. Dubai Crokes, led by Jim ‘The Border’ Fox, had a difficult night, despite some good performances. Abu Dhabi Wolfe Tones emerging as winners at about 1:30 am, it was clear that work had to be done.
The second round in Sharjah was to present itself with a whole new challenge. Agreement between the Middle East Hurling Clubs saw the competition split into 2 divisions, to ensure competitive games throughout the day. Dubai Harps and Rovers were joined in the Premier competition by Abu Dhabi Wolfe Tones, Abu Dhabi McDonaghs and Sharjah Gaels.
The emergence of the Carlow’s diminutive Marty Dalton, Mark Fennelly's new ability to find the posts and Wexford's intercounty hero Ian Byrne, meant despite the injury to Middle-East Hurling’s 'Croke Park Hero' Matthew Kennedy, Dubai Celts remained potent going forward. Every game was competitive, but Dubai Harps came undone in the final despite the heroics of Goldberg Fleming. Abu Dhabi Wolf Tones came out on top again, with Dubai Glen Rovers narrowly missing out on a semi-final place.
Dubai Crokes competed strongly in Div 1, with a place in the final against Qatar/Bahrain. Eric Corcoran and Brian Maher hurled well, but the majestic hand of Qatar’s Frank Cullen, saw them undone in the final. (Someone get that man a job in Dubai!!)
Bahrain proved to be disappointing. With neither Abu Dhabi nor Dubai fielding full strength teams, the championship round was played there so as to keep the league competitive. Again the Wolfe Tones emerged victorious and continued their march towards a clean sweep. The Christmas break would give plenty of time re-group.
The Al Ain tournament was played in Irish like conditions. A wet slippery ball meant that scores were difficult to come by. The conditions played havoc with injuries. Shoulders, knees and ankles all succumbed, resulting in a repeat Abu Dhabi v Abu Dhabi final. Despite the water tight Kieran Fitz and Ian Byrne's flamboyant skills only being matched by his new red boots, Dubai Glen Rovers were undone in the final minutes of their semi-final with 2 late goals seeing Abu Dhabi through.
Dubai Crokes competed strongly in Div 1, but a lack of available players meant the need for some stalwarts to return to the fold. While they fought bravely, lack of 'physical condition' paid its toll in the end.
And so we go to Abu Dhabi, having relinquished our Middle East League title, but in hope of returning some pride, eager to send some good friends back to Ireland with bragging rights at least. Sincere thanks to a fantastic group of mostly committed, but always entertaining lads who genuinely just love the game. It is only because of their time and effort throughout the year, that hurling continues to thrive in Dubai! Author-Michael Redmond